Archive for the ‘Home’ Category

Design | Georges Jouve – Mid-Century Master Potter

Friday, April 29th, 2016

Calice vase, circa 1955
Black and white glazed ceramic
Estimate €4,000 > 6,000



Design
Sotheby’s
Paris | France
Exhibition 19 > 21 + 23 May 2016
Sale 24 May 2016



Three Boule vases, circa 1955
Ceramic, glazed in orange,
red and green
Estimate €15,000 > 20,000



You can see it in the simple, sculptural forms of Serge Mouille’s lighting designs of those few years, and in Charlotte Perriand’s Free form table, 1956. It was as if, suddenly, in the mid-1950s, all the avant-garde French designers agreed to adopt a different kind of modernism. The mood swing, however, could be attributed to a growing international interest in the elegant forms emerging in the new and popular kinetic art and the effect of technologies developed during World War II that had been taken up by designers such Charles and Ray Eames, who had experimented with fibreglass, plastic resin and wire, to produce new types of furniture and home accessories that were stronger, but lighter in feel than anything that had existed before.

The new products had a knock-on effect to interior design, and, so as not to look incongruous in the new settings, ceramics would have to change, too. All of the examples of work shown here are by the prominent French ceramicist Georges Jouve (1910 > 1964) and were created in or around 1955.

Occasional table, circa 1955
Metal, black and white glazed
ceramic and cement
Estimate €8,000 > 12,000



Banane bowl, circa 1955
Yellow glazed ceramic
Estimate € 8,000 > 12,000



In the 1940s Jouve, who had trained as a sculptor at Paris’s prestigious École Boulle, and who, having escaped from a German prison camp, learnt local potter’s techniques in the South of France, began producing rustic semi-figurative, decorative work inspired by the religious figurines of the locality. Back in Paris, in 1944, he was producing robust pottery, often demonstrating an ironic humour; his Vase femme a nichons – literally translated as Woman with tits vase – of which he produced many versions, is a bust of a voluptuous woman with large breasts squeezed onto a pedestal base.

Table lamp, circa 1955
Red glazed ceramic
Estimate €3,000 > 4,000



Cylindre vase, circa 1955
White and black glazed ceramic
Estimate €4,000 > 6,000



Toward the end of the Forties, the influence of cubism and African art was discernible in his latest pieces, and was destined to remain as Jouve started to pare down and to simplify his vases and pitchers, on which in the early 1950s he would sometimes scrawl Picasso-esque line drawings. As the decade’s mid-point approached the surface decoration diminished and all but disappeared, the shapes became more defined, refined, and often more delicate; the potter’s former, murky palette was replaced with a fresh one restricted to strong reds, oranges, yellow, apple green, black, white and grey. Much imitated during the 1960s, the stripped-down tiled-surfaced, rectangular tables illustrated with brash, colourful abstract designs that Jouve had introduced in 1950 would become a fixture of his repertoire, but by 1955 all extraneous structural detail had been abolished, the tile pattern reduced to linear monochrome designs. Each piece retained its handmade qualities and all were signed by the hand that made them.

Jouve’s jokey Banane bowl is a clear indication that he never lost his talent to amuse, and it’s clear in his Calice vase design (both shown above) that while he developed a new style, which was appropriate to the period, he did not make a total departure from his earlier, more solid way of working: he sometimes simply streamlined it a little, which had a similar effect to putting a generously-proportioned lady into a more flatteringly-cut dress.

The forthcoming Design sale at Sotheby’s in Paris includes forty works by Georges Jouve, spanning his entire career.

All items designed by George Jouve
Photos Sotheby’s / Art Digital Studio


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The Blog is about art, architecture, books, design and gardens, and anything else that currently interests us that we think might interest you.

The Blog’s publishers insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees that may, under any circumstances whatsoever, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier


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Culture | Hippie Modernism Comes of Age

Friday, October 23rd, 2015

Haus-Rucker-Co
Environment Transformer / Flyhead Helmet, 1968
Archive Zamp Kelp
Photo © Haus-Rucker-Co, Gerald Zugmann



Hippie Modernism:
The Struggle for Utopia
Walker Art Center
Minneapolis | Minnesota | USA
24 October 2015 > 28 February 2016



Archizoom Associati
Superonda Sofa, 1966
Archive Centro Studi Poltronova
Courtesy Dario Bartolini
(Archizoom Associati)



In the year 1967 – incidentally that in which contemporary artist Olafur Eliasson was born, but more of that later – the total number of American troops serving in Vietnam was increased to 475,000. Peace rallies multiplied as the numbers of anti-war protesters swelled. In the Middle East the Six Day War saw Israel attacking Syria, Egypt and Jordan, resulting in Israel’s occupation of massive areas of land outside their previously-designated borders.

That summer cities throughout America exploded with rioting and looting, Detroit being the worst-effected, where, to restore order 7000 National Guardsmen were drafted in.

In stark contrast, 1967 also played host to the ’summer of love’. For three days in June, 200,000 young Americans gathered at the Monterey International Pop Festival in California where they smoked a lot of dope, danced and were entertained by some of the biggest names in music including Jimi Hendrix, the Who, Janis Joplin, Simon & Garfunkel and the Mamas and the Papas, and where Scott McKenzie would sing the words of his anthem that came to symbolise the era, ‘If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair…’ While it is claimed that the counterculture movement began in the USA before it became established in Europe, the peace symbol, designed and first used in the UK during the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, later became synonymous with opposition to the Vietnam War, and was much in evidence at events such as Monterey. Elsewhere the ‘flower children’, or ‘hippies’, as they became known, stuck flowers in the barrels of guns held by US National Guardsmen in demonstrations against the masculine culture that gave rise to wars and supported racial discrimination.

Was the hippie culture naive and deserving of the scorn that was poured over it over the next few decades? Once dismissed as both a social and aesthetic failure, the counterculture of the period embraced themes and ideas – ecological awareness, audience participation, the resurgent interest in yoga and spirituality, organic foods, local agriculture, marijuana legalisation, climate change, alternative energy, and social protest movements – that persist and are growing in popularity today. Step into one of fashionable contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama’s immersive visions of endless dots and nets or infinitely mirrored space – currently on show at Denmark’s Louisiana Museum of Modern Art – and you’re sampling experiences that began life in the ‘hippie’ era. Indeed, regarding them as fundamentally important to her life and work, 86-year old Kusama, who talks of seeking a cosmic vision, longs for love and peace.

Corita Kent
yellow submarine, 1967

Silkscreen
Corita Art Center, Immaculate Heart Community, LA
Photo Joshua White



Sheila Levrant de Bretteville
Women in Design: The Next Decade, 1975

Poster, cut blue-line process print
Courtesy Sheila Levrant de Bretteville


The conceptual work of the Viennese group Haus-Rucker-Co, founded in 1967, explored the performative potential of architecture through installations and happenings in which, using pneumatic structures or prosthetic devices that altered perceptions of space, viewers became participants with the possibility of influencing their own environments. The radical ideas promoted by seminal British group Archigram include Walking City, a peripatetic giant reptilian structure, Living Pod a miniature capsule home and Instant City, an airship containing all the cultural and education resources of a metropolis which could land in remote areas giving inhabitants a taste of city life, ideas that were not lost on Richard Rodgers and Renzo Piano when they came to design the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, and later on Future Systems, founded by experimental non-conformist architect Jan Kaplický, said by fellow Czech and also British-based Eva Jiřičná to be ‘considered one of the visionaries of modern architecture’.

As radical as they come, Ant Farm, though rooted in architecture, was devoted to cultural critique in different forms, especially video with Cadillac Ranch Show (1974), Media Burn and The Eternal Frame (both 1975) ranking among the most poignant early examples of the genre: the collective is infamous for having briefly ‘kidnapped’ their hero Buckminster Fuller, whose ideas and work continue to influence new generations of designers, architects, scientists and artists working to create a sustainable planet.

Fuller’s former protégé, Icelander Einar Thorsteinn (1942 > 2015), sometimes referred to as architecture’s mad scientist, worked with Frei Otto from 1969-1972 helping to design the futuristic Munich Olympiapark for the 1972 Summer Olympics and later designed mobile lunar research laboratories for NASA. In 1996, he would team up with Danish-Icelandic Olafur Eliasson, 25 years his junior, and become the mad scientist collaborator behind some of Eliasson’s more renegade works. It would be Eliasson, who would pick up the torch of countercultural experimentation and carry it into the third millennium, in so doing making himself into one of the most successful artists of our era. In 2003 he installed The weather project at the London’s Tate Modern, converting the massive open space of the gallery’s Turbine Hall into an awe-inspiring sun-worshipper’s paradise. His design for the annual London’s Serpentine Pavilion in 2007 was produced in collaboration with Kjetil Thorsen of Oslo and New York’s Snøhetta architectural practice. The timber-clad structure, resembling a spinning top, acted as a ‘laboratory’ where, every Friday night, artists, architects, academics and scientists lead a series of public experiments. The programme culminated in an extraordinary, two-part, 48-hour marathon event exploring the architecture of the senses. In November 2013, at the Falling Walls Conference in Berlin, Olafur presented with Ai Weiwei, connected via an internet link from Beijing, their collaboration Moon, an open digital platform that allows users to draw on an enormous replica of the moon via their web browser, is a statement in support of freedom of speech and creative collaboration. For Contact, which ran from December 2014 to February 2015 at Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, and reflected Olafur’s on-going investigations into the mechanisms of perception and the construction of space, artworks appeared as a sequence of events along a journey. Moving through passageways and expansive installations, visitors become part of choreography of darkness, light, geometry, and reflections. Rooted in the late 1960s and 1970s, Eliasson’s ideas lead us on into the future.

Neville D’Almeida and Hélio Oiticica
CC5 Hendrixwar / Cosmococa Programa-in-Progress, 1973

Coloured hammocks, 35mm slideshow, audio disc
Collection Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
T B Walker Acquisition Fund, 2007



Explorations into domestic living during and after the hippie period led to innovative designs such as Ken Isaac’s Superchair – a frame structured structure with inbuilt shelving, suitable for books, and supporting a platform that doubles as an easy chair or bed. In 1973, Switzerland’s Ubald Klug combined diverse elements into ‘lounge landscapes’, comparable to layered topographical models, on which Mick Jagger posed for an advertising shot illustrating the extent to which the concept captured the contemporary zeitgeist. Also in Switzerland, Danish architect and designer Verner Panton, who idiosyncratically fused pop art with design, created a domestic utopia in his own home, which he used as a showroom and laboratory for his experiments. Echoes of this pioneering spirit could be seen at London’s V&A Museum in 20111, when French designers Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec laid a striped field of fabric loungers inside the Raphael Court as part of the London Design Festival. The Textile Field installation covered 240 square metres of the gallery floor and encouraged gallery visitors to sit or even lie down, to contemplate the renaissance artworks exhibited rather than merely to view them.

Works on show in a new exhibition at the Walker in Minneapolis include Ken Isaac’s pioneering The Knowledge Box (1962 > 2009), a room-size chamber where one is immersed in a montage of projected images culled from the popular press. According to the Time Life website ‘built in 1962, [it] predated the internet by three decades — but also hinted at information-gathering techniques that we all use today, everyday, online.’ An integral part of the Black Panther Party, Emory Douglas designed potent, hard-hitting artwork for newspaper illustrations, posters and pamphlets that became symbolic of the movement and which inspired many to act are also included. Meanwhile, work by Corita Kent, aka Sister Mary Corita, who gained international fame for her vibrant typographic silk screen prints during the 1960s and 1970s, who was a sister of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, running the Art Department at a convent until 1968 when she left the order to pursue her commitment to social justice and hope for peace, is featured.

Loosely assembled around the American psychologist, writer and advocate for psychedelic drugs, Timothy Leary’s famous mantra, ‘Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out’, Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia, at The Walker Art Museum in Minneapolis examines the intersections of art, architecture, and design of the era.

All images courtesy The Walker Art Museum


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The Blog’s publishers insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees that may, under any circumstances whatsoever, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier



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Books | Cosy Contemporary – Maximising on Minimal

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

Living room with wide wood floorboards, minimal
cantilevered shelf and Eames rocker in a home in Barcelona



The Monocle Guide
to Cosy Homes

By Monocle
Published by Gestalten
402 pp, full color
Clothbound hardcover
Text in English
Available now



Monumental Mies van der Rohe-style architecture in São Paulo
softened with wood furniture, a large rug and soft lighting



I can lay claim to being the first person ever to tell the architect John Pawson – in about 1988, before he was world famous, but was nevertheless well-known amongst the London design and architecture cognoscenti for his minimal approach – that any of his interiors felt cosy.

It was the first house Pawson had adapted for himself and his family to live in – pictures of which are rarely seen now – that we were photographing for a main feature in The Sunday Times Magazine. Invited to have a look around before a group of friends would arrive for a casual supper to which I was welcome, I had got there at about five-thirty. John led me past his signature, geometric wood staircase that due to the gaps he used in his treatment of the edges appeared to float. Via the main living area – two rooms knocked together to create one making the interior of the relatively small house less cramped than it was originally – he took me through the white kitchen. Nothing cluttered up or was even visible on the long, wide work surfaces. Sliding open a drawer with his fingertips – there was no handle – he showed me his ingenious built-in and very sensible system, designed to keep the assorted implements necessary for cooking, tidy and accessible. Outside, down a few steps were a lawn and a single, elegantly-shaped tree, probably birch. To a height of about two metres above the white-painted end and two side walls, all about two metres high, tennis-court-style chain-link fencing had been erected, up and across which climbing plants – evergreen, all the same – were trained, so that nothing but sky was visible above them.

It must have been either early or late on in the year, when it starts to get dark round about six o’clock, and having been shown the little niches built into the floor-to-ceiling bedhead upstairs, where money, watches, etc might be deposited so as to remain out of sight, I paid a quick visit to the bathroom with its deep, square wooden tub – the toilet, which at first I was at a loss to locate, hidden beneath a lidded wooden bench. I re-joined John in the pristine, white space of the living/dining room with its wide-boarded wooden floor, plain white blinds that he had contrived to open from the bottom, that were drawn halfway up for privacy, and just enough to mask out any intrusive views of the outside. Other than a wooden dining table and (I think) two wooden benches, there was no freestanding furniture. Half a dozen floor-to-ceiling panels along the greater part of one side, were closets, containing anything from store-cupboard items such as tinned food, to a television that could only be watched if the door of the particular cupboard in which it was located was kept open. There were other benches built into the alcoves on either side of the chimney-breast, in the simple square aperture of which a (wood?) fire was ablaze…

Stockholm interior shot through simple square windows with cushions,
dog, blazing fire, plants and lanterns – all the elements of cosiness in place



That was a long time ago and long before Canadian journalist, entrepreneur, and magazine publisher Tyler Brûlé launched Wallpaper*, the style and fashion magazine, in 1996, at a time when minimalism, in terms of global interior design and architecture was at its zenith, John Pawson having been commissioned to design the Calvin Klein Collections Store, New York, completed in 1995. Not long afterwards, French design diva, Andrée Putman (1925 > 2013) would be quoted as saying: ‘Minimalism in interior design has become a caricature. Everywhere you find shops or hotels with an ambience that makes you feel like you are in a refrigerator.’ She could easily have made the same observations about some minimalist-inspired homes. In 2007, having left Wallpaper* in 2002, Brûlé launched Monocle, which carries the tag-line ‘A briefing on global affairs, business, culture and design.’ Monocle also has a website, a 24-hour radio station and a shop, and publishes various other spin-offs including books. Published by Gestalten, the latest of these is The Monocle Guide to Cosy Homes.

The book’s unobtrusive format and simple typographic clothbound cover dispenses with the more usual, but unnecessary paper wrapper, and is a cosy coral pink. Inside, the pages are laid out in a manner consistent with Monocle magazine, however the book is constructed as a manual. At the front, essays by such design luminaries as Ilse Crawford, Terence Woodgate and Stephen Bailey appear alongside The River Café’s Ruth Rogers‘ description of the perfect kitchen, while a section called The Directory, at the back, shows how best to plan your kitchen, as well suggesting cosy places to live wherever you happen to be in the world, and offers craftsmen and retailers for your consideration.

Practical arrangements for ‘the most important room in the house’.
Another spread suggests cosy arrangement for seating in the living area



Functional, fold-away Le Corbusier-influenced and
approved kitchen, by Janette Laverrière for a Paris apartment



As unlikely as it may seem, the minimal modernist aesthetic, sometimes visible, often obscured, provides the unlikely framework on which The Monocle Guide to Cosy Homes comfortably sits. Albeit every example shown is contemporary, the influences of early modernists such as Adolph Loos, Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe – all of whom continue to influence the work of such minimalists as John Pawson and David Chipperfield, neither of whose work, understandably, is included – is not difficult to spot. Much of the furniture, too, is either first generation modernists like Alvar Aalto, or second generation / post war modernists, such as Arne Jacobsen, Charles and Ray Eames, and Hans Wenger, all of whose pieces might be chosen as sculptural accessories for a minimal interior. While fake ‘vintage’ will never have lasting value, the sense of history inherent in patina is important; in his introduction Brûlé tells us that ‘a few dents and scratches only make them [our homes] better.’ What is uncovered by this book is that we’ve learned from modernism – and minimalism which was one development from it – that a little less can be a lot more. Uncontrolled clutter remains a no-no – we need to keep our houses in reasonable order – but it’s fine to put some pictures up and to scatter a few cushions about. It’s important to remember that people make and live in homes and unlike the majority of books and magazines about the subject, this one shows quite a lot of them.

…By now John’s wife, Catherine, had come home and we were introduced. As the fire started to glow, candles were lit and the whiteness of the walls glowed a soft golden yellow. The bunch of friends arrived all at the same time. Conversation filled the room. Wine was poured from the big 1.5 litre bottles John preferred, and very soon we were all sitting at the table enjoying a simple cosy supper.

Photographs of the book pages by Pedro Silmon



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The Blog’s publishers insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees that may, under any circumstances whatsoever, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier



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Home | Not Living Alone

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

Villa van Vijven, Almere,
The Netherlands, 2008,
by NEXT architects
Photo Iwan Baan



Daheim – Bauen und Wohnen in Gemeinschaft /
At Home – Building and Living in Communities
DAM Deutsches Architekturmuseum
Frankfurt am Main | Germany
12 September > 28 February 2016



BIGYard, Berlin, Germany, 2010,
by Zanderroth Architekten
+ Herrburg Landschaftsarchitekten
Photo Michael Feser



For those who are middle-aged and beyond, the new buildings of the world’s 21st century cities closely resemble, and may even exceed, the promise of those portrayed in the futuristic drawings in the science fiction comics of our youth. New housing, however, in many suburban areas of the UK and in towns and villages, more stylistically homogenous than ever before, while aspiring to deliver a reassuring message to the masses that nothing in the lifestyle and tastes of the average Brit has changed, misrepresent reality. Due, not least, to the reconfiguration of our lives as a result of technological advancement, climate change and the need to conserve natural resources, global living patterns are slowly but surely altering.

Since 1980, when Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government passed legislation making implementation of their Right to Buy policy possible – for the first time, allowing council house tenants to purchase their previously rented homes – Englishmen and English women have commonly believed it is their right to own the property in which they live, and very often these are houses, as opposed to apartments.

Studio building,
Yokohama, Japan, 2009,
by
ondesign & partner
Photo Koichi Torimura

The Roof Top, Vienna, Austria,
2012, by
PPAG architects GmbH
Photo Roland Krauss



In 2004, the last time the international Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s figures were updated, Spain at 83% had the largest number of owner-occupiers in the world, with Ireland at 81% coming in a close second. The UK was 6th on the list following Mexico, Greece and Belgium. Australia, the USA and Canada all scored fairly high. At the other end of the scale, Germany, at only 41% ranked among the lowest in the developed world for homeownership, with only the Swiss buying less. Germans, it would seem, aren’t interested in buying a home, and prefer to rent. There are specific reasons why this should be so – suffice to say that, in fairly quick succession, during the first half of the 20th century, the country went through two ruinous wars, in which hundreds of thousands, if not millions of homes were obliterated, later to be replaced by privately-owned apartment buildings, and that the government does not offer any tax cuts to homebuyers. According to the OECD, more than 93% of German respondents said they were satisfied with their current housing situation, which for the vast majority means apartment living in rented accommodation.

Nevertheless, there is evidence that the trend is beginning to change in Germany, across the rest of Europe, and elsewhere in the world, toward resident-owned community living in purpose-built, or reconditioned property.

Meanwhile, in the UK, house prices have risen so steeply that young people can no longer afford to buy them, so they rent. But, because the demand for rental properties far outstrips their availability, rents have risen to unprecedented levels, forcing many to search for alternative ways to live. In the past, community living here was seen as something quirky, for those wishing to lead an ‘alternative’ lifestyle, and we have a talent for sneering at our compatriots who choose to depart from the norm. Housing projects like Bowden House Community, near Torquay in Devon, earnestly describing themselves as, ‘A group of families and individuals aspiring to compassionate and eco-mindful living’ were previously dismissed as ‘hippies’. The UK co-housing Network, however, is growing steadily and now lists over fifty such projects, including Coflats Stroud, which, ‘partly inspired by the 1930’s Isokon Building in Hampstead’, albeit sounding rather retro, is at least more in tune with contemporary tastes.

Spreefeld, Berlin, 2014,
by
ArGE Carpaneto + FAT Köhl
+ BAR Architekten + The co-workers

Photo Ute Zscharnt

Hillside Housing Complex,
Kaltern, Italy, 2010,
by
feld72 Architekten
Photo Hertha Hurnaus



To discover what forms of the cooperative housing phenomenon are taking shape, and what role architecture is playing in this context, At Home – Building and Living in Communities, opening next week at the Deutsches Architekturmuseum in Frankfurt, examines 26 case studies, taking in co-op and housing association building projects in countries such as Germany, Spain, Austria, Italy and even Japan.

The different concepts for the diverse projects included can be seen as responses to the needs of those who live and work in diverse locations. Through their involvement and contributions made during the genesis of each project, innovative, custom-made solutions are developed that are geared directly to the owner / residents’ requirements and desires. The idea of living in individual apartments, and often under one roof, nurturing neighbourly relations and friendship, as well as sharing space and social responsibility, reflects living concepts that are capable of combining traditional as well as modern living models.

All images courtesy Deutsches Architekturmuseum, © the photographers


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The Blogs publishers insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees that may, under any circumstances whatsoever, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier


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Exhibitions | Honnegger’s Concrete Rugs

Friday, August 14th, 2015

H 12, 2005
Hand tufted rug



Gottfried Honegger
– Teppich Konkret / Concrete Rugs
Museum für Gestaltung Zürich
Zürich | Switzerland
26 August > 1 November 2015



H 27, 2005
Hand tufted rug



Not to be confused with the subject of our previous post, Concrete Buildings – What’s Not to Love Now? – the rugs in this exhibition are certainly not made of concrete. To be clear, the term ‘concrete art’ was first introduced in 1930 by De Stijl founder, Dutch artist Theo van Doesburg (1883 > 1931) in his Manifesto of Concrete Art, published in the first and only issue of the magazine Art Concret. While the members of De Stijl envisioned the ideal fusion of form and function, in his manifesto van Doesburg maintained that there was nothing more concrete or more real than a line, a colour, or a plane (a flat area of colour). Gottfried Honegger, aged 97, whose rugs embody the spirit of concrete art as well as those of De Stijl, is a leading artist with a major retrospective on show at the Centre Pompidou in Paris until 14 September, 2015.

It’s fitting that the Honigger’s rug exhibition is being shown in Switzerland, not just because Honegger is Swiss, but because another Swiss artist, former Bauhaus student Max Bill (1908 > 1994), who took up the concrete art (aka concrete-constructivist art) baton, organised the first international exhibition of work by the movement in Basle, in 1944. Bill stated that the aim of concrete art is to create ‘in a visible and tangible form, things which did not previously exist – to represent abstract thoughts in a sensuous and tangible form’. Some years later, Gottfried Honegger would go one stage further, declaring that the primary purpose of art is to change the world. There is a museum of concrete art in Zürich. Somewhat less well known than the great Bill, Gottfried Honneger (aka Gottfried Honegger-Lavater) is nevertheless a prominent figure in the story of concrete art.

H13, 2005
Hand tufted rug



During a sojourn in Paris in 1939, he produced a few landscape paintings and some portraits in a cubist style, but the outbreak of war meant he returned to Switzerland, where he created little more that might be called fine art until 1949. He studied window-dressing at the Zurich Kunstgewerbeschule and afterwards became a very successful graphic designer. From 1955 to 1958 he was art director of the Basel-based pharmaceuticals company Geigy, which, as well as being involved in pioneering drugs research, had an in-house packaging and publicity design department. The cutting edge work produced at Geigy was crucial to the development of the globally-influential Swiss Style in graphic design.

On a trip to New York in 1958, where he met several abstract expressionist painters, Honegger decided to become an artist himself, and stayed there. His first exhibition, in which he showed monochrome paintings on surfaces covered by a repetitive pattern of geometric elements in thin card, was held in the city. Relocating to Paris in 1961, he would concentrate on painting, exploring circles and squares, and by 1968 had begun to produce sculpture. One of the first artists based in France to be inspired by the possibilities opened up by computers, in 1970, he produced computer-aided low relief works. His multi-panel paintings with cut-out sections that involve the wall behind in the work, were executed in the 1980s.

H18, 2005 (detail)
Hand tufted rug



In 1990, Honegger and his wife Sybil Albers were instrumental in setting up l’Espace de l’Art Concret, at Mouans-Sartoux, close to Mougins, in the South of France, a museum dedicated to concrete art. Ten years later they donated their personal collections of over 550 works by avant-garde and abstract artists to the French state, with the proviso that they are kept on permanent exhibition in a purpose-built building, designed by Swiss architects, Gigon and Guyer.

The 1990s saw his relief works, freed from the flat plane, transform into sculptures in painted metal, and in 1999, Transfiguration (Metamorphosis) a retrospective of Honegger’s painting and sculpture work was shown at Jean Nouvel-designed Fondation Cartier in Paris – itself a fusion of design and form in steel and glass. Honegger’s more recent work, the Pliages is in the form of white cylinders with foldout cut-away sections.

The rugs on display in the forthcoming Gottfried Honegger – Teppich Konkret exhibition in the Schaudepot at the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich, are a natural extension of the artist’s relief pieces, simply executed in another medium.

All images courtesy Museum für Gestaltung Zürich
All rugs by Gottfried Honegger © Tisca Tiara


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The Blog’s publishers insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees that may, under any circumstances whatsoever, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier



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Home | Contemporary Complementary

Friday, July 17th, 2015

Harry Callahan
Chicago (Trees In Snow), 1950
Gelatin silver print, printed later
Est $10,000 > 15,000



Gaetano Pesce
Up4 sofa, c 1969
Polyurethane foam and stretch fabric upholstery
Est $3,000 > 5,000





Sotheby’s
Contemporary Living
– Photographs, Prints & Design

New York City | USA
Exhibition 18 > 25 July 2015
Sale 22 July 2015





George Nakashima
Mira chair, c 1956
Property of a New Jersey family
American black walnut
Est $700 > 900



If you bought everything in this sale you could probably only furnish one Soho House. But what about your own house, your own apartment? Unless you approach sales like this one with a plan, you’re likely to end up taking home a disparate group of expensive items that are neither use, nor ornament. The combinations might seem endless, but if you’re clever you’ll select individual pieces and assemble groupings that dovetail so easily together that they simply belong that way and couldn’t be better arranged.

You could go for the set of four Captain chairs by George Nakashima and use them with the Trestle table by the same designer. If necessary, Nakashima’s wonderfully sculptural, stand-alone Mira, three-legged chair could be pulled up to the table for an unexpected guest. For a more eclectic mix, there’s a set of six Brazilian dining chairs that would complement the same table. There again, especially for a small dining space that needs to fulfil other uses, Ludwig Walser’s industrial-looking, stackable fibre cement garden seats for Eternit would work on a wood floor indoors, paired with Paul Kjaerholm’s Academy desk, designed for the School of Architecture, Royal Academy, Copenhagen. Another option might be to invite your guests to squat down, Japanese-style, on the floor and to serve dinner on Sergio Rodrigues’s Mucki long bench, in which case you’d need to source a nice, complementary rug from elsewhere.

Ludwig Walser
Four garden seats, c 1960s
Fibre cement
Est $5,000 > 7,000



Alfred Hendrickx
Cabinet, c 1960
Rosewood and chromium-plated metal
Est $ 3,000 > 5,000



Robert Motherwell
Red Sea II (Walker Art Center 242), 1979
Etching and aquatint printed in colours,
on German etching paper, framed plate
Est $5 > 7,000



Poul Kjaerholm
Academy desk for The School of Architecture,
Royal Academy, Copenhagen, c 1955

Oregon pine and chromium-plated steel
Est $3,000 > 5,000



For cosiness Gaetano Pesce’s UP4 sofa, designed in 1969, that reference’s Salvador Dalí’s famous Mae West Lips sofa (1937) will add warmth to your seating area and sit well with Sergio Rodrigues’s Coffee table. The light and airy feel of Fernando and Humberto Campana’s Poltrona Cone chair made from clear polycarbonate and chromium-plated metal would contrast well with the sofa. You’d have to put a graphic print, or strongly coloured cushion on it to prevent it from looking too cold. If you went down this route, perhaps exchanging the glass-topped coffee table for Greta Magnusson Grossman’s wooden Low Bench that could be used for the same purpose would be a good idea. Having done this, it could be worth bidding for Magnusson Grossman’s matching Flip-Top dining table as well, bearing in mind that there’s only a single dining chair of hers in this sale, so you’d have to either shop around, or opt for the six Brazilian dining chairs, which would need to be re-upholstered in a colour that doesn’t clash with the red sofa. But, there again you could select an alternative sofa, like Joaquim Tenreiro’s Sofa, which would require an injection of nearby colour – say, Homage to the Square: ten framed screenprinted works by Joseph Albers, that could be used en masse as a backdrop. If that’s all a bit too colourful, or you need an energy injection, there’s always Robert Motherwell’s Red Sea II (Walker Art Center) print.

André Kertész
Chez Mondrian, Paris, 1926
Gelatin silver print, printed later
Est $5,000 > 7,000



Joe Colombo’s Spider ceiling light would be nice for mood lighting with any of the above, and there are a couple of 1940s Italian table lamps, either one of which would sit happily on top of Alfred Hendrickx rosewood cabinet, with Harry Callahan’s minimal, starkly monochromatic Chicago (Trees in Snow) hung on the wall above it, the linear organic shapes softening the geometry of the Albers, should you decide to go for them. Then again, there’s photographer André Kertész’s atmospheric Chez Mondrian, Paris black and white photograph that you could design an entire house around…

… But this is just us thinking out loud while scrolling through the 249 lots in Sotheby’s Contemporary Living – Photographs, Prints & Design sale. If you happen to be in New York on the viewing days, go along and see the free exhibition, where you’ll get a far better idea of the relative sizes of the various pieces, how they might work together, and whether they’ll fit your home or suit your lifestyle.

Photographs courtesy Sotheby’s


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The Blog’s publishers insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees that may, under any circumstances whatsoever, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier



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Architecture | On Holiday with Adolph Loos

Friday, June 12th, 2015

View from the mezzanine gallery
above the double-height restaurant,
towards the Schneeberg mountain
Photographed by Pedro Silmon



The Blog team are in Austria this week.

We’re staying at the Loos Haus Hotel, originally built as a summer house by Austrian and Czecheslovak, pioneering modernist and influential architect, Adolph Loos, for the Khuner family between 1928 and 1929.

See you next Friday…


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The Blog’s publishers insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees which may, under any circumstances whatsoever, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier



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Design | Functional Sculpture

Friday, May 15th, 2015

Philippe Hiqily,
Henri Samuel chair,
designed 1975,
2004 edition

Sotheby’s estimate:
€20,000 > 30,000



Christie’s
Design, Vent du soir /
Design Day Sale
Paris | France
Exhibition 15 + 16 + 18 + 19 May 2015
Sale 19 May 2015

+

Sotheby’s
Design 20e siècle /
20th Century Design

Paris | France
Exhibition 16 + 18 May 2015
Sale 21 May 2015



Charlotte Perriand,
Free form table / desk,
designed 1956.
Steph Simon edition c 1960
Solid saple wood.
Christie’s estimate:
€120,000 > 180,000



Along with everyone else in the Sculpture Garden at MoMA, you can sit, looking cool – imagining you’re a sculpture yourself – on sculptor Harry Bertoia’s sculptural Side chairs. But you can’t do it indefinitely, because, if we’re being completely honest, they aren’t really that comfortable, especially if the little pad that prevents the supermarket trolley style grid from embedding itself into your bottom, is missing. On the Knoll website – they produce and market Bertoia’s furniture – it says that Harry, who was primarily a sculptor, ‘found sublime grace in an industrial material, elevating it beyond its normal utility into a work of art.’ But surely, since chairs, and, for that matter, any other item of furniture must be functional, the Side chair is disqualified from ‘art’ status. Does it matter one way or the other?

Georges Jouve,
Mirror, c 1955
Glazed ceramic.
Christie’s estimate:
€8,000 > 12,000

Jean Prouvé,
Table, c 1939
Painted and folded sheet steel.
Christie’s estimate:
€80,000 > 100,000



It would seem that Donald Judd, who created sculpture that looked like furniture and furniture that might be art, thought it did. An extract from a 1993 Judd essay called It’s hard to find a good lamp reads: ‘…[S]omeone asked me to design a coffee table. I thought that a work of mine, which was essentially a rectangular volume, with the upper surface recessed, could be altered. This debased the work and produced a bad table, which I later threw away. The configuration and the scale of art cannot be transposed into furniture and architecture. The intent of art is different from that of the latter, which must be functional. If a chair or a building is not functional, if it appears to be only art, it is ridiculous… A work of art exists as itself; a chair exists as a chair itself.’

Serge Mouille,
Pair of wall sconces with
Saturn motif, c 1957
Black + white lacquered metal
Sotheby’s estimate:
€4,000 > 6,000

Pierre Chareau,
Desk MB 405 + stool SN 3, c 1928
Wrought iron and rosewood
veneer desk + wrought
iron and rosewood stool
Sotheby’s estimate:
€250,000 > 350,000



On the other hand, as Design Museum Director Deyan Sudjic said in his 2008 obituary about the great Italian designer/architect Ettore Sottsass: ‘We live in a world which values the useless ahead of the useful, which celebrates art, untainted by the least hint of utility, above the ingenuity of design that is burdened by function, and creates a cultural hierarchy to match. It was perhaps the greatest achievement of Sottsass’s long and remarkable career that he made this distinction irrelevant.’

Zaha Hadid’s designs for amorphous benches and stools are intended to blur the line between utility and sculpture. Like her architecture, their streamlined curvaceousness isn’t purely functional, nor is it merely decorative. They are functional pieces, in that they are meant to be sat on, but just having them around enlivens a space and raises the spirits, rendering them objects of desire.


Eugène Printz,
Modernist console, c 1931
Palm wood veneer
Sotheby’s estimate:
€30,000 > 50,000



Many of the – in theory – functional, and sought after items being sold in the forthcoming Christie’s ParisDesign, Vent du soir /Design Day Sale, and in Design 20e Siècle / 20th Century Design at Sotheby’s Paris, including those shown here, were designed in the modern period, but, ironically, their sculptural qualities a result of their creators’ uncompromising searches for authenticity, they could easily be taken as examples of the rule-breaking that came to be a defining characteristic of postmodernism.

All images courtesy Christie’s and Sotheby’s, respectively.
Donald Judd quote © Judd Foundation.


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Design | Lino (Murano Maestro) Tagliapietra

Friday, February 13th, 2015

Coronato, Murano, 2000
Estimate $10,000 > $15,000
Sculptural vessel in blown
and battuto glass
36 x 12 ins / 91.4 x 30.5 cm



Lino Tagliapietra
Modern Ceramics and Glass
Rago Arts and Auction Center
Lambertville, New Jersey, USA
Exhibition until 13th February 2015
Sale 14th February 2015



A long way from the island of Murano in the beautiful Venetian Lagoon, Lambertville can be found, as it says on the Rago website, ’midway between Philadelphia and New York City.’ In the production of fine glass objects, Murano has led the world since the 14th century. Lambertville was a thriving 19th century factory town where great quantities of a diverse range of goods – from underwear to rubber bands – were made in vast quantities. But while Murano continued to develop or refine a wide range of glass-making technologies that include crystalline glass, enamelled glass (smalto), gold-threaded glass (aventurine), multicoloured glass (millefiori), and milk glass (lattimo), in Lambertville, which had previously grown up around a once important crossing on the Delaware river, by the 1970s, commerce had waned considerably. Unsurprisingly, its quality so consistently high, Murano’s art glass and glass figurines, glass chandeliers, wine stoppers and hundreds of thousands of tourist souvenirs found their way to every corner of the world. In the meantime, once Lambertville’s factories disappeared and the town was cleaned up, its fortunes improved to such an extent that it also became a tourist destination.

Test Piece, Murano, 1984
Blown glass vase
9 x 6 ins / 22.8 x 15.2 cm



Venetian glass artist, Lino Tagliapietra was born in Murano in 1934 and, when little more than a boy, was sent to work in the island’s glass factories. Aged 21, he was granted the title Maestro (Master glass blower) and made fine items for some of the most prestigious glassworks on the island. At the Venice Biennales, which he regularly attended, Tagliapietra was fascinated by the work of Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, and Ellsworth Kelly. In the 1960s, with supreme technical and aesthetic standards that earned him significant commercial success, he started to create his own modern artistic forms. Renowned American glass sculptor Dale Chihuly (b 1941) visited Murano in 1968, where he taught Tagliapietra the techniques he had developed, which Tagliapietra passed on to the other maestri. In return Tagliapietra taught Chihuly, the Venetians’ glassworkers secrets.


Bilbao, Murano, 2001
(Shown from three angles)
Sculptural vessel in blown
and battuto glass
23.5 x 13 in / 59.6 x 33 cm



Tagliapietra’s material of choice is effetre glass, or F3 – an abbreviated form of fratelli tre, ‘three brothers’ – is a variety of soda-lime glass. This type of material is usually used for making lamps, and is worked by using a torch to melt and shape it at 945°C. It is considered a medium-soft glass and is popular because of its wide colour range and the ease with which it is moulded and shaped. Genuine glass of this type is made by the Effetre International Company on Murano, where Tagliapieta was artistic and technical director from 1976 to 1989. But teaching has defined the artist, who first visited the United States in 1979. He has since led workshops and taught in glass programmes around the world, but especially in America – the Haystack School of Crafts, Deer Isle ME, Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood WA, Rhode Island School of Design RI, MIT Glass Lab, Cambridge MA – but also at the Toyama Art School, Toyama, Japan, and the University of Sydney, Australia, and in many more education establishments. He set up on his own in 1990 and dedicated himself to creating unique pieces, which soon became sought after, and many of which are now in the permanent collections of some of the most eminent museums in the world, including, among many others, London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York, and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Lausanne, Switzerland. He is also represented in numerous galleries and private collections. In 2009, the Museum of Tacoma dedicated a major travelling retrospective exhibition to Tagliapietra’s work, which was also hosted by other American museums including: The Smithsonian, Washington DC, and the Palm Springs Art Museum, California.

Stellato glass vase,
Marseilles, 1991
12 x 6.5 x 3 ins /
30.5 x 16.5 x 7.6 cm



Aged sixteen, David Rago began dealing in American decorative ceramics at a flea market in his home state of New Jersey. Over the years, his business grew and grew, so that today, with two partners, one of whom is his wife Suzanne Perrault, he oversees Lambertville’s prestigious Rago Arts and Auction Center, dealing exclusively in 20th and 21st century antiques and collectibles. Suzanne, who is in charge of contemporary glass at Rago, and David have both visited Murano, but have yet to enjoy the pleasure of hosting Lino Tagliapietra in Lambertville. However his work has often been sold there, and on Saturday afternoon, the Modern Ceramics and Glass auction, features six of the Maestro’s key pieces.



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The publishers of The Blog insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees which may, under any circumstances whatsoever, fall due must be borne by the source supplier



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All Categories | Storms, Smoke & Power Cuts

Friday, January 2nd, 2015

Apologies!
Due to a combination of wild storms that blew smoke from the wood fire back down the chimney, setting off  alarms in every room, and covered everything in a fine layer of soot, and the power cut that, in amongst all of this, plunged our friends’ isolated, converted corn mill where we were staying into deep, velvety darkness, The Blog isn’t posting this week.

In the meantime, you might like to take a look at our reminder of the diverse range of international visual arts and events-related subjects we posted in 2014.

Best wishes for 2015



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The publishers of The Blog insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees which may, under any circumstances, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier

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